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CV Cover letter Tips

 
Each time you send out a CV you must send a covering letter with it, whether you are responding to an advert or sending a speculative application. It is considered unprofessional not to send a covering letter/email with your CV. Unless the advert specifically says do not send any letters - always send a covering letter The covering letter is a very important part of your application; it introduces you and your CV to the prospective employer - and can in some cases be the difference between getting an interview or not.

The letter needs to say a bit more than just that your CV is enclosed. You need to highlight via your CV your specific skills and experiences, which will encourage the employer to start thinking you are the right person for the job - and try and match those skills (and developing skills) with the job advert. Initially the employer/reader wants to know that you can add value to the job/company in terms of the skills that you can bring to the job. This is your first opportunity to sell yourself - use it wisely and professionally in the first stage of the recruitment process - if its the job you want - it will be well worth it.

Aim of a cover letter

Applying for an advertised vacancy
Speculative applications
Applying for work experience
Targeting

Suggested Formatt

First paragraph
Second paragraph
Third paragraph
Fourth paragraph
Length of the letter

Suggested Formatt

DO'S on a Letter
DONT's on a Letter
If you are emailing

Example Cover letters

Applying for an advertised vacancy
Speculative applications
Applying for work experience

Aim of a cover letter
Before you write your covering letter you should clearly decide what you are trying to achieve. The format used is similar in each case, please see Suggested Format for tips on how to layout your letter.

Applying for an advertised vacancy

Do research on the company and include this information in your letter
Read the advertisement and make sure you address each of the requirements
Draw attention to your relevant qualifications that make you suitable for the position
Address the letter to the person named in the advert
To see an example of a covering letter for an advertised vacancy click here.


Speculative Applications


In this instance you are applying for a position that has not been advertised. This can be a good way to get a job as it is unlikely there will be many other applicants and this method shows initiative.
Do research on the company and include this in the letter
Make positive statements about what you can contribute to the company
If possible refer to somebody in the company or a newspaper article
It is in your best interest to follow up applications of this nature and indicate this in the closing paragraph of your letter

To see an example of a covering letter for a speculative application click here.


Applying for Work Experience


Work experience is an excellent way to decide on a career path or to gain more experience in your chosen career. Many companies offer work experience and good companies will give you a lot more to do than just making the tea or filing, such as job shadowing.
There are 2 types of work experience: paid and unpaid. Obviously it is much easier to get unpaid work experience
Address the letter to a named person in the company. If you know which department you want to work in you could send your letter directly to the Head of that department
To see an example of a covering letter for a work experience application click here.



Targetting
After spending all that time creating a good, well designed CV don't be tempted to write a quick standard letter just so that you can get your application in the post. Your letter must:


Address an individual person. Never address the letter to "Sir/Madam", if you are unsure who to write to phone up the company and find out
Mention the advert for the job or state your reason for contacting the company
Highlight your abilities and skills that are appropriate to the individual company and position you are seeking
Demonstrate a knowledge of the company and their products/services.



Suggested Format
There is no right or wrong way to write a covering letter, but it will be easier to write a good covering letter if you set out clear objectives and present them in a clear way.

First Paragraph

Explain who you are and why you are writing
If you are responding to an advert state when and where you saw it
Quote the reference number if one has been provided
Mention if you have had any previous contact with the company
Confirm that your CV is enclosed


Second Paragraph

Briefly explain your job and qualifications
Highlight skills that are appropriate for the job and the company
Relevant work experience
Refer to your CV, e.g. "As you will see from my enclosed CV�" this will entice them to read on and pay more close attention to your CV
This is your opportunity to expand on information provided in your CV, but be careful not to oversell yourself or make too much of things that aren't mentioned in your CV at all.


Third Paragraph

Give details of your interest in the company and why you want to join them
Include some facts about the company to prove your knowledge and research, e.g. "As the largest supplier of tar in the Midlands�"
Mention anything that has contributed to your interest in them, e.g. presentations, job fairs, contact with representatives through previous employment

Fourth Paragraph

Request an opportunity for an interview
State how you will follow up this application: either wait for their response or if appropriate say that you will telephone in a few days to discuss the matter further Remember, if you say that you are going to call - DO

End politely and without a fuss
Sign the letter with your name clearly repeated under your signature
Remember to include your contact details in the letter


Length of the Letter
Try to include as much information as possible but bear in mind that if your letter is over one typed side of A4 your reader is likely to lose interest and may not finish the letter.



Typed or Handwritten?
A typed covering letter is more and more often the norm. It's easier to read and looks more professional, but be warned a standard letter can be spotted a mile away!


Handwriting your letter has its advantages; it shows that you have put a lot of effort into the individual application, rather than just pressing 'print', it adds a personal touch and it proves that you have good spelling, grammar and punctuation.


With the advent of email the handwritten covering letter has taken a bit of a backseat and if invited to email your application it is a good idea to do so as it proves that you are technologically proficient.


The decision is up to you but try to think which form your potential employer may prefer, if they are an IT company they would probably be more impressed by a typed letter.


DO'S on a Letter

Make sure your letter is addressed to the right person at the right address
Check all spelling, grammar and punctuation (including titles and addresses)
Include your contact details in the letter
Write your letter on good quality paper that matches your CV
Customise your letter to target your potential employer
Use bullet points if you need to, it can make the letter easier and quicker to read
Include a proper introduction and ending
State how you would like this application to be followed up


DONT'S on a Letter

Send your letter to "Sir/Madam"
Write reams. Your letter should be short, concise and to the point; you don't need to duplicate all the information on your CV, just pick out the highlights
Use long words simply to impress. This won't give an accurate representation of yourself and you may misuse a word




If you are E-Mailing

Make sure your letter is written in a common font that is easy to read with standard formatting
If you are attaching your CV and covering letter, remember to attach it!
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